Mill owner appeals WorkSafeBC fines

The owner of a former Sicamous-area company is appealing more than $28,000 in fines resulting from a WorkSafeBC inspection.

The owner of a former Sicamous-area company is appealing more than $28,000 in fines resulting from a WorkSafeBC inspection.

David McKinney, the owner of the now defunct Cambie Cedar Products Ltd., says he’s appealing three violations dating back to a December 2015 inspection by WorkSafe BC.

WorkSafeBC says one of the violations was issued after a representative of the firm attempted to “obstruct WorkSafeBC officers when they tried to inspect the firm’s sawmill.” The related fine amounts to $8,996.

WorkSafeBC says a second fine of $8,966 resulted from WorkSafe inspectors finding what they called “hazardous accumulations of combustible dust on surfaces and fixtures in various work areas.” WorkSafeBC claims the dust was in direct contact with potential ignition sources, and says the “firm’s failure to control and remove hazardous accumulations of combustible dust was a repeated violation.”

WorkSafeBC also says their inspectors found the several pieces of machinery in the mill lacked the required safeguarding. This violation resulted in Cambie Cedar Products Ltd. being fined another $11,000.

Regarding this last violation, McKinney says the machines that were found to be unguarded were shut down, with the guards off to do the necessary maintenance. As for the first and second violations, McKinney says they were dealing with wet hemlock and not the combustible dust of pine beetle-killed wood linked to the explosion of mills in Burns Lake and Prince George.

“What I told them was is if they came to tell me one more time – if all they were doing on my site was to tell me wet hemlock sawdust was an explosion hazard, then I didn’t want them on my property. I didn’t try to stop them,” said McKinney, adding he appealed a violation for combustible dust in the past and was successful.

WorkSafeBC records confirm Cambie Cedar Products Ltd. was fined in February 2014 for allowing “large amounts of combustible dust… to accumulate on structures  and machinery throughout the sawmill,” and that the violation and related fines were later cancelled by the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT).

WorkSafeBC confirms the three violations from December 2015 are under review as part of the appeal process, and McKinney anticipates the WCAT will again vote in his favour.

“As the WCAT already ruled, I was right 100 per cent and they were wrong 100 per cent,” said McKinney. “There’s no fire hazard and no explosion hazard with wet hemlock sawdust which we’ve been running for two years here. It’s all nonsense.”